GLOBAL human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Nigerian military of hiding the corpses of at least 12 protesters who were murdered in cold blood at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos on Tuesday.
On Tuesday evening, the men of the 81 Division of the Nigerian Army opened fire on unarmed protesters at the toll gate, in what is being referred to as Nigeria’s Sharpeville Massacre. Over the last fortnight, the young and peaceful protesters had been demonstrating against police brutality and had been calling for the dissolution of the Special Anti Robbery Squad (Sars) police unit.
Early this week, however, the nationwide protests descended into violence as government-sponsored thugs attacked protesters. In response, hoodlums attacked police stations and officers of the force, sending the whole nation up in flames, to which Governor Sanwoolu responded with a curfew due to start at 4pm in Tuesday.
As dusk approached, workers at the toll gate began removing the CCTV cameras at the facility, so what was being planned would not be recorded. Then, under the cover of darkness, the Nigerian Army attacked shooting at unarmed civilians, killing dozens and injuring scores.
Global rights group, Amnesty International, says at least 12 protesters were killed at the Lekki tollgate plaza and at the Alausa areas of Lagos State, adding that like in previous killings, security agents hid some of the corpses of the protesters.
According to Amnesty International, since the #EndSARS protests began, 56 lives have been lost with 38 of them killed on Tuesday alone. Osai Ojigho, Amnesty International’s Nigeria country director, said the soldiers who went to Lekki had only one intention, which was to murder.
Mr Ojigho said: “An on-the-ground investigation by Amnesty International has confirmed that the Nigerian Army and police killed at least 12 peaceful protesters on Tuesday at two locations in Lagos. These killings took place in Lekki and Alausa, where thousands were protesting against police brutality as part of the #EndSARS movement.
“Witnesses at the Lekki protest ground told Amnesty International that solders arrived at about 6.45pm local time on Tuesday and opened fire on #EndSARS protesters without warning. Eyewitnesses at the Alausa protest ground said they were attacked by a team of soldiers and policemen from the Rapid Response Squad Unit at about 8pm, leaving at least two people dead and one critically injured.
“Opening fire on peaceful protesters is a blatant violation of people’s rights to life, dignity, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Soldiers, clearly, had one intention – to kill without consequences.”
According to Amnesty International, evidence gathered from eyewitnesses, video footage and hospital reports confirm that between 6.45pm and 9pm on Tuesday, October 20, the Nigerian military opened fire on thousands of people who were peacefully calling for good governance and an end to police brutality. It added that it received reports that shortly before the shootings, CCTV cameras at the Lekki tollgate were removed by government officials and the electricity was cut, in what was a clear attempt to hide evidence.
It said as in previous cases, some of those killed and injured at both grounds were allegedly taken away by the military. It said victims of the shootings by security forces include protesters and thugs who were allegedly hired by the authorities to confront the protesters.
Mr Ojigho added: “These shootings clearly amount to extrajudicial executions, so there must be an immediate investigation and suspected perpetrators must be held accountable through fair trials. Authorities must ensure access to justice and effective remedies for the victims and their families.”